Yesterday I traveled up to New York City to go to edcampnyc, an unconference that sprang up following the model of the edcampphilly, that I helped to organize last spring. It is so exciting to see what can happen when groups of people make a commitment to education and to being part of a community of educators who want to make schools better. Many of the organizers of edcampnyc had come down to Philadelphia last spring to take part in the 1st edcamp. They were people who had connected on Twitter, who shared ideas and resources there and were excited to meet and talk in person. After experiencing the power of an unconference, they wanted to organize and hold one in NYC. To learn more about an unconference, check this post where I write about it.
The day started early, leaving home on a Saturday at 6:30am to drive to Trenton and catch the train to the city. As I was driving there, I couldn’t help but think about why I was doing this on a cold, blustery December morning. I could have been warm in bed, but instead I had made the choice to head north. What was it that was so important about these kinds of times? There was no doubt about the answer. They were times when I could get re-energized and excited about my job.
Don’t get me wrong! I love my job. I have always loved being in a classroom and facing the challenge of sparking interest and energy in my students. It is an exhausting job, and there are days when my energy is low. There are times of the year when there are too many days until the next break. At those times, I am not sure how to connect with each of the students in my classes; I am not convinced that I know the best strategy or activity. December can often be one of the times of the year. It is dark and cold with too much to do and very little stability.
To hold an unconference on the first weekend in December was brilliant. Three cheers for the organizers! It was the perfect antidote! I spent yesterday being nurtured and challenged. There was no room for lethargy or apathy when among the educators that were there. It was like a strong wind of wisdom and energy filled the School at Columbia, where edcampnyc was held. Each new session was filled with teachers and administrators who wanted to grow, who wanted to share their best practices and find solutions to their doldrums. These were teachers who willingly gave up their off-duty time to come together. They were often people who considered the others there part of their PLN, their Personal or Professional or Passionate Learning Network. Many of us had never met in person, but we regularly helped each other online. So being together in one space was even more special!
We live in a world that is changing every day. It can overwhelm us, or it can energize us. We can choose to ignore the changes, or we can become students again, eager to learn and grow. As teachers, we must become part of the solution. We must be willing to try new strategies and march bravely into this new world that global and digital connections is creating. When we do it together, we will be wiser and stronger. So take up the challenge! Find ways to share and learn with other educators!